A synod for creation?
Columban Father Sean McDonagh believes it would be a good thing for the church and for the future of the earth.
He repeated his suggestion for Pope Benedict XVI to call such a synod during a visit to the Center of Concern in Washington May 17 in a visit also sponsored by Pax Christi USA and Missionary Society of St. Columban.
“It would give everyone a chance to share insight,” said the Irish priest, who has spent more than 30 years urging the world to do a better job of caring for God’s creation. “The synod would be a great impetus to the task for caring for the earth and caring for every creature. It would give new life to the Catholic faith in contemporary society.”
It’s not just the duty of the Catholic Church to care for the earth, but for all religions to lead the way, he said.
Drawing on long-held beliefs, traditions and revered writings that point to the sanctity of creation, all religions can inspire people to alter their habits and reduce their impact on the planet, explained the author of nine books on the environment.
The constant push to consume goods in the name of economic growth is destroying the earth and hardly poses an appropriate model for sustainable development around the world, Father McDonagh said.
Economic growth cannot be unlimited and the sooner the world realizes that, he said, the sooner humanity can address massive environmental challenges such as climate change, species extinction and polluted air, land and water.
The Irish priest was in town days after the conclusion of the most recent gathering of the U.N. Commission on Sustainable Development. He was the Irish government’s representative to the 11-day meeting, which, he contended, failed to address major concerns of environmentalists.
That makes the work of individuals, particularly people whose lives are rooted in religious practices and beliefs, all the more important, he said.
Father McDonagh finds Christians specially positioned to develop inspiring messages on the importance of protecting creation based on Scripture.
“The Christian faith is founded on the belief that God is the creator and God is present in all of those processes,” he said. “It’s founded on the belief of incarnation, that the divine became part of this extraordinary emergence. And it is celebrated in the most intimate way. Communion is not just my prayers or my thoughts. It is the true world of nature. We have bread, wine.”